San Fransiscans are taking back their democracy.
What's happening in New Hampshire? We like to think of ourselves as Ground Zero for "grassroots democracy".
Or are we?
Here in New Hampshire, we pride ourselves on our grassroots democracy. We grill the presidential candidates. We live free or die. But there's something missing in this picture. A real grassroots democracy depends on a free and open vote, controlled by the citizens whose interests are supposed to be represented by those elected in a free, grassroots, democracy.
But inexplicably, 81% of New Hampshire voter s do not enjoy a free and open democracy. They have given away their vote to a private corporation, a private entity with a history of partisan special interests and whose management team has included a convicted embezzler (formerly aligned with a convicted Watergate burglar mastermind), and a convicted cocaine trafficker.
Yes, 81% of NH voters have given away their vote to a private corporation whose New England representative is located in Methuen, MA. 81% of New Hampshire voters have blindly handed off their civil rights to a company about which we know nothing and over which New Hampshire citizens and officials have no oversight whatsoever.
These New Hampshire voters have allowed LHS Associates, New England's sole representative for Diebold Election Systems, to decide how 81% of NH ballots will be counted, using trade secret software algorithms that even NH's Secretary of State is not allowed to see!
Who are these anonymous programmers in Methuen, MA, controlling 81% of NH's votes, counting them in secret? WE DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE. What security procedures does this company employ to secure the purity of NH's vote count? WE DON'T KNOW. Have there been any background checks on these people controlling the NH vote count? WE DON'T KNOW. And who are the financial backers of this company that counts 81% of NH's votes in secret? WE DON'T KNOW.
LHS Associates, claiming they owed nothing to NH citizens, declined to reveal information about their business and business practices requested by the NH Fair Elections Committee in March 2006.
We don't know a whole lot about the company that controls so many of our votes, but we do know a lot about US Constitution and its framers, who built and designed our form of government with a wary eye to those with power and control, and who institutionalized a system of distrust and checks and balances, based in most part on openness and observability to enable complete citizen oversight over all governmental processes.
When our governmental functions are shrouded in secrecy our institutionalized distrust and checks and balances falter. When our vote - the sole instrument of citizen oversight and empowerment, short of revolution - is held hostage inside a black box owned by special interests, those checks and balances are irretrievably damaged.
And we are left to consider - blindly - what might be going on inside the black box.
So let's consider what we do know about the private interests controlling the vast majority of NH's votes. There is one thing we do know about LHS Associates: we know that they have two lines of business.
Business #1, Programming Elections: With their first line of business, LHS Associates alone has access to and control over the secret vote
counting software that counts 81% of NH's votes.
Business #2, Collecting Census Data: With their second line of business, LHS Associates performs what is known as "data mining". They collect census data, information about who lives where, what are their incomes, their professions, their habits, their properties, their family histories.